With spring just around the corner, college graduation isn’t far away. Many soon-to-be college grads are faced with some major life decisions. Namely, career choice, which translates somewhat loosely to, “What do I want to do for the rest of my life?”
Major life decisions like these are, of course, difficult for everyone, whether or not they attend college. For someone with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), however, a decision like this and the resulting journey on which such a decision takes them can be paralyzing.
Consider the focus and determination, strength in the face of rejection, one must garner and maintain in order to succeed in the career world. Now consider the fact that those with Borderline Personality Disorder tend to experience, among the other challenging symptoms of BPD, the following:
- An intense fear of rejection (whether real or perceived)
- Unstable sense of self
- Difficulty maintaining relationships
- Extreme anxiety
While not everyone with BPD will struggle when it comes to finding and starting a career, for many, it will be a life-long challenge. So how can you help your loved one with Borderline Personality Disorder navigate their career path?
When discussing career goals with your loved one with Borderline Personality Disorder, help them remember that everything takes time. Those with BPD often experience dichotomous thinking, or black and white thinking, resulting in an all or nothing attitude. For example, maybe one job interview doesn’t go well. This may translate to, “I obviously made the wrong choice,” or, “no one is going to hire me.” Help your loved one remember that the steps to starting, or even changing, careers can be long and arduous for everyone, and that growth and progress are, indeed, difficult to achieve.
Go One Step at a Time
Help your loved one with BPD concentrate on baby steps. Focusing solely on the big goal can become frustrating and overwhelming. Little victories throughout the day are accomplishments. The goal is forward movement, and anything that accomplishes that is a success. Your loved one probably won’t be hired as CEO tomorrow, but they can send out, say, five resumes or schedule an interview. Help your loved one with Borderline Personality Disorder set smaller, achievable goals and then help them to celebrate those accomplishments.
Whether something like a job interview or a resume submission has a negative or positive outcome, stay cool. It’s important to congratulate a success, or empathize with a perceived failure, but keeping an even tone can help your loved one with BPD avoid taking this result to the extreme. Provide your loved one with Borderline Personality Disorder validation of how their success, or lack thereof, makes them feel, and help them to get motivated on the next steps.
Keep a Routine
In the midst of the crazy whirlwind that is building a career (and it is truly crazy for everyone, no matter what their challenges are), it is helpful to maintain a routine. This keeps things from feeling like they are spinning out of control. Help your loved one with BPD come up with a schedule that works. A time during the day for job searches. A time during the day to make phone calls and send out resumes. Also as important: make sure there is a time during the day to back off from the job search or the career and relax and reconnect with just being a person. Take a walk. Meditate.
Help Them Get BPD Treatment
The support of family and loved ones is priceless when it comes to starting a career, whether you are just graduating from college, going back to the workforce after a period away, or changing careers. If your loved one’s BPD symptoms are preventing them from starting or maintaining a career, Borderline Personality Disorder treatment may be needed. BPD treatment can help your loved one get their BPD symptoms under control so that they can more successfully begin and maintain their chosen career. Many BPD treatment centers even offer vocational assistance, so your loved one can get some help with creating a resume, starting a job search, and going on interviews.
How have you helped your loved one with BPD get started in their career? Share in the comments below.